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New York Library and Marketing Genius

After my conference work was over on Saturday, Darwin and I headed back to the New York Public Library.  He wanted to check the geneological collection for some of his ancestors and I wanted to explore the building some more.  And off we went.

On the way we stumbled across a Barnes & Noble and went in.  I found several of my books on the shelf.  My offer to sign them was well received.  Yay!  (Sometimes such offers aren't.)

At the library, Darwin found the collection he was looking for, and I wandered off to explore the library.  They don't build libraries like this anymore, all high ceilings and echoing hallways and rooms you could play rugby in.  Libraries these days seem to be ultilitarian first and architecturally interesting second ("Why are you wasting MY TAX DOLLARS on something LIKE THAT?" wail the masses, and so we're often stuck with dull public buildings).  I like the old school ones that look like a Greek temple, a place where you might find a secret door into an underground chamber, or where a hidden passage might turn up only during the second full moon of the month.

Anyway, I wandered around admiring a number of rare and ancient books and explored the odd nooks and crannies of the library itself to my heart's content.  Darwin, unfortunately, struck out on finding anything about his family, and we retired to the courtyard in front of the library to sit at public tables and people watch.  A wedding party arrived and got its picture taken by the famous lions on the front steps, and I remembered we had to hire a photographer for our own wedding yet.

We shopped--Darwin is looking for a particular style of watch and having no luck--and finally had supper at a delightful Irish pub not far from Times Square. The food (shepherd's pie for me) was fantastic.

And then it was off to Times Square.

Times Square on Saturday night--ohhhh, what a mess.  Crowds so thick you could hardly move!  The TV billboards danced crazily in attempts to get our attention.  Costumed people offered themselves up for photos, including a trio of topless women who wore nothing but g-strings, feathered head-dresses, and body paint.  I wondered if they were actively breaking the law and no one cared or if the law counted Cobalt Blue #5 as clothing.

"Where are the men wearing g-strings and water colors?" I mused aloud.  "Shouldn't there be a set of them, too?"  And Darwin agreed.

We found a particularly dense crowd in one area and realized it was because of the Revlon billboard.  The billboard had a camera in it that threw a wide-angle video of the crowd onto the screen and then zoomed in on one central location and superimposed a heart on the center.  "Kiss!" the screen exhorted.  I assume the idea was for a couple to get caught in the heart and smooch.  But the crowd was eager to get on the big video screen that no one kissed at all.  Instead, they smooshed and jammed themselves together and waved frantically at the camera, hoping to get in the middle.  One young guy with a brown beard waited five or six times so he could get into the heart over and over.

But here's the thing--the video feed wasn't a constant.  Each time the camera did the KISS! thing, the video flipped over to a Revlon commercial.  Then the billboard teased the crowd by showing other kiss camera images, seeming to promise the camera would come up next.  But then there was a commercial.  Then a promise of the camera, followed by yet another commercials.  Finally the camera would show up and everyone went nuts.  Yay!  We're on camera!  Because we've never done that before!  Wow!  Then it was back to several minutes of commercials.

"Genius!" I said to Darwin as we watched this phenomenon from the edges.  "They got an entire crowd--thousands of people--to watch Revlon commercials over and over and over, and all they did was promise to show a random few of them on camera, something they can do any time at home.  These people are giving away their viewing time and not even getting a TV show in return.  Genius!"

"You really need another hobby," Darwin said.

Half the fun of Times Square is watching other people, so we watched other people, along with the billboards.  We tried some shopping, but the stores were simply too crowded.  We did go into a watch store that had the watches on display OUTSIDE the cases. They were wired down with zip ties, but you could still pick them up and examine them.  I liked this much better than the usual watch stores, who hide the prices and don't want you touching anything until you can see the color of your bank account.

Eventually, I realized I'd left my carryall back at the restaurant.  Oops!  We dashed back to the pub and I found it exactly where I'd left it.  Whew!

We returned to the hotel, footsore and fascinated.

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( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
delkytlar
Aug. 20th, 2015 05:45 pm (UTC)
Sounds like a great trip. I don't know if you got to visit the original Winnie-The-Pooh stuffed animals at the NYPL. They used to be in the Children's Reading Room at the main branch, and my kids always made us stop there to see them.

The topless women in Times Square are under fire from the Governor's office. The news this morning reported that he was going after them for breaking the law and contributing to bringing back the seedy side of Times Square. Apparently, yesterday, police arrested the man who "manages" the topless ladies of TS.

Re: those kiss-cams. They do that at baseball games - pan the crowd, and get couples to kiss on the big screen. I was at a Mets game last year, and they pointed the camera at a man and woman sitting next to each other. They realized they were on camera, and turned to kiss... the people on either side of them. Turned out they weren't together at all, and each one's SO has been left off-screen.
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